Double whammy for touring crew
UK based touring professionals like me will be hit by a double whammy because the government failed to secure cultural work permits for tours in the EU27.
Before Brexit, an American band for example, would tour Europe supported by a core team from the states. Amongst this core crew we have:
Backline Technicians – keeping the guitar heroes happy.
Front of House Sound Engineer – making it sound great for the fans.
Lighting Designer – making the show looks pretty, even the drummer.
Monitor Engineer – ensuring that the band can hear each other.
Video Director – relaying the action to the big screen so you can see what’s going on.
But that’s less than half of the story. European tours like that are traditionally supplemented by a big cast of UK technical crew and their equipment. Unsung heroes including audio engineers, PA engineers, lighting technicians, riggers, automation, carpenters, vision engineers, camera operators, LED techs, caterers, wardrobe, production staff, and a myriad of others. A big tour might involve up to 100 touring professionals.
Back in 2019, before COVID19 struck, I supported the US rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd – of ‘Freebird’ fame. The tour, a mix of festivals and arena shows, picked up video, sound and lighting equipment from the UK, plus the technicians to make it work and the transport to get them around.
I have real fears that tours like this will stop using UK equipment, trucking, and technicians because of extra cost.
Music touring is about making money. Additional costs, such as work permits and visas, will result in the artist losing money. Inevitably these costs will be avoided. That means going to mainland European suppliers instead.
This is bad news for UK touring professionals, equipment suppliers and transport companies. The additional cost makes us less competitive. We will be passed over from now on.
There’s more. We also stand to lose out on UK based work. Why would a promoter bother changing their arrangements for shows in Britain?
Continuity and reliability are essential. Why risk working with a completely new set up for the sake of a few British dates? It’ll be much safer to take the paperwork on the chin and stick with European crew.
A widely respected industry professional has told me that decisions have already been made. His company has stipulated that it will hire technicians with valid EU passports or those with dual citizenship only.
My industry has been hit hard by COVID19. Many of us have not had any work or support. Some, like me, have had to fall back on our pension savings to survive.
Unless the government acts fast, thousands of UK touring professionals will lose their livelihoods, with grim consequences for a UK success story.
This dilemma isn’t limited to music tours. It affects anyone who tours the EU27 professionally, from ballet dancers and orchestras to theatre productions and sports personalities…
And the cast of thousands who put the stars in the spotlight when the lights go down – both on the continent and here in the UK too.
Sign the petition calling for the UK government to “Seek Europe-wide Visa-free work permit for Touring professionals and Artists” now: